Republicans celebrate, Democrats fundraise after SCOTUS leak
Tracking digital actions + online narratives in the aftermath of Monday’s shock abortion ruling
This week was a difficult one for the majority of Americans who believe in reproductive rights and our decades-long constitutional right to privacy. Since Monday, we’ve been closely monitoring the conversation about the Supreme Court’s leaked Dobbs decision via digital advertising, social media posts, and the right-wing information ecosystem, and we’ll share what we’ve found below.
By the numbers
FWIW, here were the top-spending political advertisers on Meta platforms (Facebook + Instagram) last week:
With few exceptions, the top political advertisers on Facebook and Instagram last week remained unchanged - a mix of tech-industry lobbying groups and leading Democratic statewide campaigns.
On Tuesday, Trump-backed venture capitalist J.D. Vance handily won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio. Compared to their TV budgets, the Ohio campaigns’ digital investments were surprisingly low, with the exception of Peter Thiel’s “Protect Ohio Values PAC”, which spent big to support Vance. Here’s a quick recap of digital ad spending in that race
Meanwhile, here were the top political advertisers on Google platforms last week, including YouTube:
Several weeks ago, we noted that Democratic Senate candidates like Tim Ryan and Alex Lasry had adopted some “tough on China” economic messaging in their ads. Now, Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto has joined that crowd, with the below ad blanketing the Silver State on YouTube (and we presume Television):
Lastly, here are the top political ad spenders on Snapchat so far this year:
…Elsewhere on the internet
A QAnon supporting candidate won a surprise Republican primary victory in Ohio’s battleground 9th congressional district. That candidate, J.R. Majewski, has run an ad featuring himself carrying an assault rifle saying that he’ll do “whatever it takes to return this country back to its former glory” while kicking down a door. He also made a “Let’s Go Brandon” rap video.
Political ads are banned on Twitter. Now that Elon Musk is buying the platform, Republicans are hoping that they’ll be allowed back.
If you’ve ever made a donation to a campaign or signed up to volunteer, then you’ve probably received unwanted mass emails from campaigns you’ve never heard of. In this week’s Campaigner newsletter, we spoke with someone who’s trying to do something about it.
Democrats’ fundraising tech platform ActBlue has officially processed over 10 billion dollars since its creation in 2004. The company broke it down in a Twitter thread this week.
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Republicans celebrate, Democrats fundraise after SCOTUS leak
Since Monday, we’ve been closely monitoring the conversation about the Supreme Court’s leaked Dobbs decision via digital advertising, social media posts, and the right-wing information ecosystem. Here’s what we’ve seen:
Conservatives celebrate and conspire
Many conservative politicians, activists, and organizations were quick to celebrate the potential ruling. In the 24 hours following Monday night’s news, right-wing evangelical leader Franklin Graham had the top-performing public post on Facebook (by # of reactions, shares, comments):
While some Republican elected officials were quick to use the line that ending Roe would still maintain abortion access in Democrat-run “blue” states, others struggled to hide their true intentions. On Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul emailed Candace Owens’ massive email list on behalf of a pro-life organization - calling for a nationwide ban on abortion. His statement tracks with a Washington Post report that detailed conservative strategy sessions to make a ban a reality.
In right-wing media circles, celebration morphed into conspiracy theories, with pundits and politicians on outlets from Newsmax to FOX focusing on the leak of the ruling, and not the ruling itself. Some called the leak “an insurrection,” while others compared the leaker to “jihadists.” One far-right Twitter user went as far as to dox a random Supreme Court clerk as the likely leaker, which, after smearing the clerk’s name and directing threats and vitriol her way, he noted was pure speculation.
Democrats commiserate, call to codify Roe
On the Left, most were in understandable shock. In a now-viral video, Sen. Elizabeth Warren channeled the anger that many of us felt this week, rallying with abortion supporters outside the Capitol and Supreme Court. The video received more than 10 million views on Twitter, and millions more on Tiktok, Instagram, and Facebook.
Most notably, by Wednesday afternoon we had seen dozens of politicians and political groups - mostly Democratic or progressive - already mention the SCOTUS ruling in Facebook advertising to their supporters. Here’s a mega-thread featuring some of the ads:
FWIW @FWIWnewsSince Monday night, dozens of candidates and political groups have launched Facebook ads about the #SCOTUS abortion decision overturning Roe v. Wade. 🏛🔥 Here's a 🧵 of what they're saying:
Specifically, Democratic U.S. Senate campaigns from North Carolina to Wisconsin almost immediately started running ads calling on Congress to codify Roe v. Wade following the leak. Those campaigns included: Fetterman (PA), Beasley (NC), Lasry, Godlewski (WI), Booker (KY), Ryan (OH), Hassan (NH), Kelly (AZ), Kunce (MO), and Demings (FL). Several even stated support for ending the Senate filibuster rule to do so.
These campaigns (and their digital firms) know that the ruling was a serious motivator for so many potential supporters and grassroots donors, and it would be malpractice to not move quickly to channel anger into action. Although we haven’t seen too much data, early reports indicate that this week was a big one for Democratic digital fundraising
It’s long been speculated that a potential Supreme Court ruling on Dobbs could shake up the midterm elections and give Democrats a flag to rally around. While it's likely true that the decision will motivate some Democratic base voters to get engaged, campaigns shouldn’t take anything for granted. For advice on that front, we’d encourage you to check out Dan Pfeiffer’s latest on how Democrats should run against extremism.